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Scott Wiggerman's Poetry Pages

J o u r n a l s


 
 

I've been very fortunate to have published in dozens of journals, a small sampling of which are highlighted below--along with the poem(s) that have appeared in them. But here are a list of some other journals I've had success with: Red River Review, Big Tex[t], Swell, the Beat, Möbius, modern words, Divine Animal, Poetry Midwest, QP: Queer Poetry, Homestead Review, Muse Apprentice Guild, Texas Writer, Poetry Depth Quarterly, Word Salad, Bay Windows, Limestone Circle, Entre Nous, utter, RFD, Poetic Eloquence, Paterson Literary Review, Poetic Space, El Locofoco, RE:AL, Black Buzzard Review, and others, some sadly no longer among the living.

"Swallows" is forthcoming in Poesia.

 

Also includes my poem,

"Red Mist"


A Matter of Size

This hotel bed is a sea,
a wide swath of quiet
where we float

like distant islands,
almost out of sight.

Waves of white
billow between us;
your breathing

barely reaches my shore.
I long to return home

where we surge,
touch and tumble,
in the brine

of our own small bed.

 

 

 

 


Berryman’s Last Dream Song

Brusque Henry huffed briskly onward
as though late for an important appointment.
Below the Washington Bridge, the frozen
Mississippi beckoned like a bottomless bar drink,
Henry’s demons everywhere.
Time to clean things up, he said.

Henry hauled himself onto the rail,
sat and listened to the chime of the bells
from the University—nine times,
a countdown to blast-off. The flesh
of the palms, the seat of the pants, stuck
to the icy rails, not quite ready to give up.

The drop was swift, like that fateful bullet,
his father’s maddening legacy.
Some thought he was waving goodbye,
but Henry, his white beard parting like a soul
from its body, was greeting Mr. Bones
and all those acquaintances, pale and old.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chimayo

I ate dirt yesterday.
Cathy would be proud.

The santuario has stood
for almost two hundred years.
Who knows over that time
how many have made the pilgrimage
to taste of its healing dirt?

If you stop at the wood-carved altar,
fail to wander through two low side-doors,
you might miss the discarded crutches,
the hole in the floor, the dirt,
the scoop perched in it.

I sifted and pinched the dirt
between my fingers,
dropped it in my mouth
like chewing tobacco.
Cathy would have taken a handful,
but she’s a walker of holy pilgrimages,
a believer.

All I know is that I still
have that pain in my side,
and even after brushing,
I’m biting down on grit
between my teeth.



 

 

 

Also includes my poem,

"Backyard Sycamore"

 

 

 

 

 

 


Reading Atwood at 30,000 Feet

Azure expanses offer no clarity,
only more distance.
I could just as well be over Canada,
Siberia, someplace cold,
as over the American Southwest.
From here, everything is remote:
cities, oceans, failure.

My spine in an upright position,
I removed myself from attendants’ orders
and the hiss of artificial air
even before takeoff.
Strapped in an aisle seat,
I rigidly continue to read.

A glance out the window reveals
what is to be expected
when the world as we know it
has been relinquished:
emptiness, nothing.

I take no comfort in knowing
that seats can be used as flotation devices,
as if any body of water
exists between Austin and Albuquerque.

But I do dream of surfacing,
rising out of a ghostly lake;
of gulping air, pungent and pure,
and shimmering like light on water.



 

 

 

Also includes my poem,

"Ways of Leaving"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Chosen

i.
As the gray waters rose
and the sun disappeared for weeks,
depression descended upon the animals.

Penguins missed the sparkle of ice,
monkeys grew claustrophobic without trees,
groundhogs ached to dig in the earth.

Ants withdrew without busy colonies,
owls couldn't tell when to sleep, when to wake,
Angora goats started losing their hair.

Wolverines fought like schoolyard children,
the female beetle thought menopause hit early,
the male elephant harbored thoughts of suicide.

Sex, too, proved susceptible to boredom.
Soon the cobras claimed headaches;
even the rabbits agreed to separate berths.

Why, they asked in therapy sessions,
were we, of all our species, selected to be saved?
Why were we singled out for this stinking ark?


ii.
Fish, on the other hand, flourished
with rain and water everywhere,
their world an aquarium of new adventures.

Cod lost their fear of fishermen's nets;
salmon, their need to run upstream.
Fish multiplied like loaves of Biblical bread,

until the lonely dove returned
with a soggy olive branch,
proof that the waters were abating.

Then the big boat anchored on Ararat
with nary a fanfare or cheer—
depression had turned to apprehension.


Kangaroos were alarmed at sinking into the ooze,
centipedes were unsure of their footing,
turtles feared to leave their homey shells.

The weak and weary animals felt
the terrible burden of procreation
weigh on them like God’s heavy hands.

Knowing their best was all washed up,
each species looked at its mate, warily.
It was time to learn to love all over.



 

 

 

Also includes my poem,

"Fear of Heights"

 

 

 

 


On Turning Fifty

No longer able to see them,
we talk around our range of dreams.
They float like clouds, we suspect,
among the peaks, up there somewhere,
like that legendary guru divining wisdom.

We long ago surrendered the means
to climb such lofty pinnacles,
ropes and harnesses tossed in the trash
or sold for pennies at garage sales.
Leave scaling mountains to the young,
who continue to believe they’ll be rock stars
or write the Great American novel.
They can fall from great heights—
and still get up. We sympathize,
yet have to laugh at their folly.

While they look up, we look straight ahead,
or down, grounded by bifocals and arthritis.
Dreams are too distant, abstract as math,
so we focus on what we see before us:
no could be’s or could have been’s,
no switchbacks or regrets.

As we start the inevitable downward slope,
our paths have never been clearer.
Let others talk into the face of mountains.



 

 

 


Mattress

Our crooked bodies curl like cats
in a knot in the center of the bed.
I like that beneath us is a mattress
on which no one but us has slept,
a strong, hard mattress,
made for middle-aged backs,
for stomachs unreigned in the night,
for necks that slope into folds.

Deep creases clothe your nape,
shadows that coil into the pillow.
Neck hairs bristle in scraps of moonlight,
glimpses of glistening silver.

A drudging engine,
your heavy breath fills the room
with fifty-year nasal laments.
I listen till my own lungs
match your respiration,
and I lull toward repose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dogma

In a school full of Marys and Stevens,
Gregorys and Margarets—
everyone named after saints, popes,
or much-touted martyrs—
I stuck out like a Muslim,
the only one without a patron saint.
Even then I suspected it was a sign.

Perhaps it was early defiance
that kept me from being an altar boy.
When the Johns and Michaels
busied themselves in surplices
at the front of the church,
I sat in a pew, waiting for a calling,
with the Lauras and Rachels. None of us
would ever touch a sepulcher.

Friday mornings, we left our themoses
and tuna sandwiches on our desks,
made a pilgrimage to that mysterious black box
imbued with incense and sweat, the confessional.
I waited my turn with the Davids and Dianes,
their fingers wrapped around rosaries.
The tips of my fingers were
bloodied from nail-biting,
as if I had sins as thick as bark to unburden.
Every week it was the same thing,
whether or not I had anything to confess:
I disobeyed my parents,
I missed Mass, etc.
I rejoined the other penitents,
dressed alike in gray and navy blue,
and folded my hands in the steeple position.

Friends’ homes were rife
with crosses, relics, and holy water,
fronds of palms that had been blessed;
the only thing religious in my house,
buried in the hi-fi, was a family Bible,
kept solely for records and tradition.
I secretly gloated, for when the Communists came—
as we’d been assured by nuns they would—
I knew I would be spared,
for my home had no proof of Christianity.
I knew I would deny and renounce,
life more important than faith.

I excelled at Confirmation for I could
memorize pools of appropriate responses,
phrases as sterile as an operating room.
The Catherines and Raymonds
were filled with renewed spirit,
clutching like parachute cords
their scapulars and medals of St. Christopher.
I never wore anything around my neck.

In church I gazed at stained glass,
more interested in luminescent colors
than anything the priest had to say,
even when the Latin switched over to English.
I fainted one day during Mass.
Several parishioners carried me out.
Gasping for air, I awoke to rays of sunlight.
This was my moment of rapture,
the sign that I’d been seeking—
space, air, a God of skies and clarity;
my body outside the doors of Catholicism
as my mind had always been.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear any comments you have about these poems!